Figuring out how to pay for a funeral can be an expensive exercise in Australia where the average cost of a cremation is $7,420 and the average cost of a burial is $19,000.

This guide assumes you are seeking to pay for an immediate need or upcoming funeral. If you are instead looking to pre-plan financially for a funeral, see our article on Funeral Planning Options: Prepaid Funerals, Funeral Bonds and Funeral Insurance.

We will cover 3 broad sources of money that can be used to pay for a funeral:

  • Pre-planning products
  • Common sources of funeral funds
  • Options when you are unable to pay for a funeral

For each way of paying for a funeral, we detail how long it takes on average to get hold of that money. This is important because most funeral directors require payment in full before, or very shortly after, the funeral. And as you will see, for many of the sources of funeral funds described below, the money only becomes available much later. This means that a family member will have to cover the cost of the funeral upfront and be out of pocket until they can be repaid. For some, this won’t be a big deal. For others, it may be inconvenient or simply not possible. In these situations, you might consider purchasing the funeral on “buy now, pay later” finance.


Buy now, pay later finance

Gathered Here has partnered with zipMoney (a buy now, pay later solution) to enable customers to purchase a funeral on 3 months’ interest & fee-free finance from participating funeral directors. This finance has the following key features:

  • 3 months interest-free
  • We rebate you for establishment and monthly fees paid to zipMoney within the first 3 months
  • For loan amounts between $1,000 to $10,000
  • Approval within minutes
  • Apply online through the Gathered Here website
  • Only available with participating funeral directors

As you can see in the table below, there is no additional cost in interest or fees for purchasing a funeral on finance on Gathered Here. This makes it an option worth considering, not only for those who are in need of a bridging funeral loan, but also for those who would find it more convenient to pay over 3 months rather than in one upfront lump sum.

Example

Term3 months3 months3 months
Amount Borrowed$2,000$4,000$10,000
Establishment Fee$25$75$99
Admin Fees$18$18$18
Rebate on Fees-$43-$93-$117
Total Fees $0$0$0
Total Interest Charged$0$0$0
Total to be Repaid$2,000$4,000$10,000

Note: Buy now, pay later finance on Gathered Here is generally only approved for prime, near prime and emerging prime consumers (i.e. consumers who are likely to be able to repay the loan). We do not promote the practice of lending money at high interest rates to those who are unlikely to be able to repay.


1. Pre-planning products

Before you start investigating different ways to pay for funeral expenses, it’s important to first check whether your loved one took any steps to financially plan for the cost of their funeral. Common ways to plan for a funeral include:

Prepaid Funeral

  • Timing: Funeral is already paid for

A prepaid funeral is a funeral that is paid and planned for in advance with a chosen funeral director. Assuming the prepaid funeral has been paid for in full, there will be no additional costs. Of course, if you choose to make any changes or upgrades to the funeral as planned, there may be further costs.

For more information, see our Guide to Prepaid Funeral Plans.

Funeral Bond

  • Timing: Money available 1-2 days after confirmation of death

A funeral bond is an investment product that helps people to save for funeral expenses. A certain amount is contributed to the funeral bond each month and invested until the money is required to pay for the funeral.

Depending on how much has been saved under the funeral bond, it may not cover all of the funeral expenses.

For more information, see our Guide to Funeral Bonds.

Funeral Insurance

  • Timing: Money available 1-2 days after confirmation of death

Funeral insurance is a specific type of life insurance product that pays out an insured sum upon the policy holder’s death. Note that funeral insurance will not be paid out if the policy has been forfeited due to missed payments, or if any non-accidental death exclusions apply.

Like with funeral bonds, depending on the sum insured under the policy, the payout may not cover all of the funeral expenses.

For more information, see our Guide to Funeral Insurance.

Life Insurance

  • Timing: Money only available 1+ months after confirmation of death

Some life insurance policies include a “Final Expenses Benefit” or “Funeral Expenses Benefit”, which is an amount of the insured sum that can be paid out early and quickly for the purpose of covering funeral costs. However, if your policy does not have this type of benefit, life insurance usually takes 1-2 months to be fully paid out.


2. Common sources of funeral funds

Assuming your loved one does not have a prepaid funeral, funeral bond or funeral insurance, the following are common ways to pay for funeral costs.

Funds from the Deceased Estate

  • Timing: Money only available after 2+ months

The deceased estate is the money and assets left behind by the deceased. While money from the deceased estate or Will can be used to pay funeral expenses, because it takes time to administer the estate (usually 2+ months), a family member will usually need to find another way to cover the cost of the funeral in the interim.

In some cases, it may be possible to contact the deceased’s bank to seek a special payment to cover their funeral expenses.

For more information see our article on recovering funeral expenses from the deceased estate.

Early Access to Your Superannuation

  • Timing: Money only available after 1+ months

Generally, it is not possible to access your own superannuation to pay for a family member’s funeral. However, an exception may be granted on compassionate grounds, where you will need to show that you have no other way to pay for funeral costs (such as using personal savings or selling assets).

It’s important to note that your super will only be released early to meet unpaid costs. If you have already paid for the funeral (i.e. via a loan, credit card or otherwise) you cannot access super to repay yourself.

For more information, see our Guide to Accessing Superannuation to Pay for a Funeral.

Accessing the Deceased’s Superannuation

  • Timing: Money only available after 2+ months

If your loved one is or will pass away before they retire (and therefore still have a superannuation fund), a death benefit payment will be made to their dependents and eligible beneficiaries which can be used to pay for funeral costs. This process takes several months, so a family member will need to find another way to cover the cost of the funeral in the interim.

For more information, see our Guide to Accessing Superannuation to Pay for a Funeral.

Government Allowances

  • Timing: Money only available after 1+ months

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim certain government allowances or payments to help pay for the cost of a funeral. Common assistance payments include:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Bereavement Payment
  • Widow Allowance
  • Pension Bonus Bereavement Payment
  • Department of Veteran Affairs Payment

For more information, and whether you are eligible for these allowances, see our Guide to Assistance with Funeral Costs.

Personal Savings

  • Timing: Money available immediately

Obviously, if you have sufficient savings you can draw from your own bank account at any time to pay funeral costs.

In many situations, a family member will need to temporarily pay for funeral expenses in this way and wait to be repaid by one of the other sources set out in this article (if and when that money becomes available).

In cases where you are not able to cover the cost out of savings upfront, or you would simply prefer to pay the amount over 3 months rather than in one lump sum, you might consider purchasing on interest & fee-free finance on Gathered Here.


3. Options when you are unable to pay for a funeral

If you are in a situation where you are unable to pay for a funeral, you have a few options to explore:

Destitute or Pauper’s Funerals

  • Timing: Funeral can be arranged immediately

Most state governments in Australia have programs set up to assist families who cannot pay for a funeral. In order to be eligible for this type of assistance, in most cases, the family will have to show that they genuinely cannot pay and satisfy strict assets tests.

The funeral provided by the state will be very simple and you will have very little choice in how the service is put together.

For further guidance on destitute funerals, see our Guide to Assistance with Funeral Costs.

Funeral Loan

  • Timing: Money available after 1+ weeks

A funeral loan (i.e. a personal loan) can help you arrange a fitting farewell for a loved one. Generally speaking, it’s preferable not to pay for a funeral using borrowed money, as taking out a bank loan incurs interest. It’s also not advisable to borrow beyond your means to pay for a funeral as it may put you in a position of long-term debt.

For more information, see our Guide to Funeral Loans.

Payday Funeral Loan

  • Timing: Money available same-day

A payday loan or bad credit funeral loan is a high-cost, short-term loan that can be arranged same-day with no credit checks. While this may sound convenient, the downside is that the fees and interest rates are extremely high.

Caution: Borrowers of payday loans can often be caught in debt spirals where they are unable to keep up with growing fees. All other options should be explored before considering a payday loan.

For more information on payday loans, see our Guide to Funeral Loans.

Crowdfunding a Funeral

  • Timing: Funds available after 1+ weeks

Crowdfunding is a new way of raising money for a funeral. It works by requesting small donations from friends, family and the general public. The steps involved in crowdfunding are:

  1. Go to a crowdfunding website (such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter and Pozible)
  2. Create a description of your crowdfunding campaign
  3. Set a time period and dollar goal for your campaign
  4. Let let people know about it

Emailing close friends and family to ask for support, and posting the campaign on social media to extended networks can be effective ways of encouraging donations.

We hope you have found this guide on ways to pay for a funeral helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by leaving a message in the comments section below or emailing us at support@gatheredhere.com.au.


 See the full picture and make fully informed decisions. Move forward in the certainty that your loved one’s memory will be looked after. Funeral Homes are Gathered Here.

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